What Are the Symptoms Of Tooth Decay?

You may not know this, but tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in the world. In fact, it affects over 110 million people every year! The good news is that there are ways to detect and prevent tooth decay from happening. This blog post will teach you all about what tooth decay symptoms look like so you can make sure your teeth stay healthy and strong for many years to come.

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries and cavities is a process that results in the destruction of tooth structure. The cavity erodes your teeth by breaking down their hard enamel coating and eventually reaching deeper into the softer underlying tissues. On crowns or fillings this will show up first before anything else since they are closer to your gums than other areas on your teeth such as cusps. Cavity symptoms usually don’t occur overnight; instead, there’s always some form of warning sign that slowly gets worse over time until you finally decide it’s worth getting checked out by your dentist.


The first symptom is called a white spot lesion, also known as an opaque lesion (due to the fact that it’s difficult for us to see through them) and this occurs when enamel starts wearing away at the gum line exposing more dentin underneath.

Another tooth decay symptom is brown spots which usually appear on cusps or other areas where stains accumulate faster than others. These stains start forming just below your gums all around teeth that have metal fillings because metals tend to corrode over time causing discoloration in between teeth especially if you grind them at night while sleeping. If these stains don’t go away after brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste then it might be a good idea to speak with your dentist about it and schedule an appointment right away. They’ll be able to determine if there’s decay present or not and what kind of treatment plan they would recommend for you going forward.

Tooth decay symptoms typically include general tooth pain, swelling of the gums, changes in tooth color, and temperature sensitivity. Many people’s first indication of tooth decay is that their smile isn’t as bright due to the discoloration.

What Type of Dentist Will I Need?

Your general dentist can help confirm whether you have tooth decay present, but when it comes to treatment you will likely be dealing with a specialist. You’ll need to visit a dental surgeon or endodontist for this type of work because they are specially trained and certified to perform all types of root canals including those on impacted wisdom teeth.

Effect of Sugar on Your Teeth

Sugar is considered one of the major causes of tooth decay. It has been shown that sugars contribute to plaque formation, which damages teeth by changing pH levels.

Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Eat Sweets

Many people often wonder why their teeth hurt when they eat sweets. This is because the acids in sugar break down tooth enamel, which takes away your teeth’s natural protection. Avoid eating too much candy, cookies, and other sugary foods to ensure you don’t damage your teeth any further.

Importance of Calcium

Drinking milk has been shown to help strengthen tooth enamel because it contains calcium which can rebuild damaged areas of teeth. It also helps create saliva production, which washes away plaque that could otherwise lead to cavities forming on a regular basis. This is why dairy products are considered one of the best natural sources for preventing tooth decay from happening in most cases.

You should keep these symptoms in mind when brushing your teeth at night so make sure you brush thoroughly before bed every day. This way you can prevent any cavities from forming by keeping bacteria off their surfaces until morning comes around again.

If you discover any of these tooth decay symptoms it is important to seek professional dental care immediately so a plan can be created for removing any trouble spots before more damage occurs. There are many ways to treat and prevent future outbreaks if you can catch them early enough.

If you live in the greater Lansing area and are worried you may be dealing with tooth decay symptoms, contact Cavanaugh Dental to set up an appointment.

What is Periodontal Disease & How Can it be Reversed

Periodontal disease is a type of gum disease that targets the gums and jawbone. It is a fairly common disease with half of US adults being diagnosed at some point in their life. Luckily, it’s also very treatable and can be reversed with good oral hygiene habits. If you suspect that you might have the beginning stages of periodontal disease, it’s best to consult your dentist right away to get the proper treatment. This disease can progress quickly if left untreated which is why it’s important to seek professional dental help.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection of the gums that over time will start damaging the soft tissue of the gums and your bone structure. In the beginning stages of periodontal disease, there will be an excess buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the surface of your teeth. It constantly forms on your teeth after eating and drinking while mixing with saliva. Routine brushing and flossing will keep this plaque from building up, but if this is not done then periodontal disease can start.

What causes periodontal disease?

The main cause of this disease relates to poor oral hygiene. Specifically, it stems from an excess of bacteria that has built up around your gum tissue causing inflammation. There are many other factors involved in periodontal disease including health issues like diabetes and poor immune systems. Some of the most common symptoms and risk factors of gum disease include:

  • Tooth loss
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swollen gum tissue
  • Sensitive gums and teeth
  • Smoking
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing

How to reverse periodontal disease

There are a few different ways that you can get your oral health back on track and reverse periodontal disease. While it’s a common disease, it’s also a very treatable disease. Reversing gum disease first involves getting the infection under control and then taking preventative measures to begin the reverse process. Here are some of the things you can do to reverse periodontal disease.

1. Plaque removal 

During regular dental visits, your hygienist should be removing any plaque from your teeth. Since plaque is one of the ways excess bacteria can build up on your teeth, it’s best to have any and all plaque removed from your teeth. This is one of the ways you can help prevent or reverse periodontal disease.

2. Scaling and root planing

One of the most common treatments for helping your periodontal disease is through treatment of scaling and planing. Once bacteria have gotten under your gum line, it can be extremely hard to remove with standard methods. This process, done by a dental professional, will safely and effectively remove the built-up bacteria to stop further growth.

3. Preventative care

The best thing you can do for gum disease is to make preventative care a priority. There are a few different preventative care habits that you can implement into your daily routine. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth at least two times per day for at least two minutes at a time. Next, you should also be flossing your teeth to remove any food particles or bacteria stuck between your teeth. Last, visiting your dentist at least one time a year is important in preventative care to find any problems.

4. Surgery 

The last step to reversing periodontal disease is when antibiotics and scaling are not successful. Flap surgery is a type of surgery that is used to treat gum disease by cleaning the roots of a tooth and repairing any damage that was done to the bones. Your dentist will be able to recommend whether this is a necessary treatment for you or not.

If you are struggling with gum disease or the beginning stages of periodontal disease, we are here to help at Cavanaugh Dental. We are able to help treat your periodontal disease and give you the right tips and tools to reverse your gum disease.


The Best Way to Brush Your Teeth

While brushing your teeth may seem like a regular thing you do every single day, there is a difference between brushing your teeth properly and doing an okay job. Proper brushing techniques will help improve your overall oral health along with many other benefits like fresh breath, white teeth, and more. Sure, we all learned how to brush our teeth when we were kids, but when is the last time you’ve sat down to think about whether you’re just getting the job done or doing it right? We’ll walk you through the proper way to brush your teeth that will benefit your oral hygiene and overall health.

What you’ll need to get started

There are a few essential items that you’ll need in order to brush your teeth. The first step in making sure you’re brushing your teeth right is to be sure you are prepared with all the necessary items. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash

There are a few important things to note about the items you need. Toothbrushes or toothbrush heads for electric toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months to avoid any bacteria. Using fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association is highly recommended as it helps protect your teeth from decay.

Steps for brushing your teeth properly

The entire tooth brushing process should take about 2 minutes if you follow these steps here. Do this twice a day for the best oral hygiene results and to keep your teeth clean.

Step 1

Lightly wet your toothbrush and place a small amount (pea-sized) of toothpaste on the bristles of the toothbrush.

Step 2

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to begin brushing. The most common mistake many people will make is brushing up and down rather than in circles. The best way to brush your teeth is in a circular motion so that you better reach your gums to clean them.

Step 3

Next, be sure to brush the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth including those hard-to-reach back molars. In this step, you should use a back and forth motion to avoid any irritation of your gums.

Step 4

Don’t forget your tongue! The secret to fresh breath is also cleaning and scrubbing your tongue before you decide you are done brushing your teeth. There is a lot of bacteria that can hang out on your tongue that you want to get rid of.

Step 5

Once you have completed all of these steps, now it’s time to rinse! Be sure to swish water around in your mouth to get rid of all excess toothpaste and food particles out of your mouth.

After you have completed these five steps you can move on to flossing! Be sure to get between each area of your teeth to remove any stuck particle that brushing wasn’t able to remove. This helps with fresh breath and helps to prevent getting a gum infection. Once this is done, use a mouthwash to complete the process and leave your teeth clean and your breath fresh!

Diagnosing & Treating a Cracked Tooth

While our teeth are typically very strong, over time they can break down and become weakened. This can make it possible for your tooth to crack if in this weakened state during eating hard food, getting hit while playing sports, and many other scenarios. It can happen to the best of us and luckily with today’s modern dental technology, a cracked or chipped tooth is nothing to worry about as it can be easily fixed. First, it is important to understand the different causes of a cracked tooth are.

What causes a cracked tooth?

There are many different ways that a person’s tooth can crack. Some more common situations are likely the cause with some extreme, rare situations mixed in between. Here are some of the more common reasons why your tooth might crack unexpectedly:

  • Eating food that is hard
  • Sports accident such as getting hit in the face
  • Long-term untreated cavities that begin deteriorating
  • Very old fillings
  • Accident causing facial damage

What are the symptoms of a cracked tooth?

While pain is the number one symptom that is associated with a cracked tooth, this is not the only symptom that accompanies a cracked tooth. Some cracked teeth can be more difficult to identify and may involve different symptoms. A few other symptoms that are common of a cracked tooth include:

  • Sensitivity
  • Bad breath
  • Sharp pain
  • Uncomfortable when chewing

If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it is best to go get your tooth checked out to see if it is cracked or not. It’s very important to fix a cracked tooth as soon as possible when it’s found rather than waiting and potentially causing additional problems.

How do you fix a cracked tooth?

When your tooth has been more severely damaged from a crack, fixing the crack can be a little more complex. This especially holds to be true if the crack is caused from an old cavity or filling left untreated. For these severe cases, your dentist will probably recommend a root canal treatment in order to fix the tooth. This option is reserved for cases of intense pain and sensitivity issues with your teeth. On the other hand, if you only have a small crack without an infection and minimal pain, this tooth can usually be fixed with tooth cement. This substance can be molded to your tooth to fill the crack completely and sanded to mimic the shape of your tooth. Therefore, depending on your own situation, different treatment options may be recommended to you in order to fix the tooth.

Does a root canal fix a cracked tooth?

In short, the answer is yes, a treatment such as a root canal can be acceptable for fixing a cracked tooth. If the crack reaches the pulp of the tooth, a root canal can preserve the tooth and fill in the crack. However, if the crack extends below the gum line, it is no longer treatable by a root canal and other options must be looked at instead.

Does a crown fix a cracked tooth?

In some cases, a crown can also be a viable solution to fix a cracked tooth. In order to protect the remaining tooth, a crown can be placed over this tooth for protection. This will help improve the strength and longevity of the cracked tooth and prevent it from further cracking.

What other options fix a cracked tooth?

There can be other options to fix a cracked tooth depending on the situation. Your dentist will know best about what these options are and what is the best one for you. Some of these alternative options other than a root canal or crown can include using a tooth-colored filling to seal the gap. These options are usually for smaller, less severe cracks in the tooth.

Final Thoughts

If you think that you may be experiencing a cracked tooth, please contact us immediately so we can further assess the situation of your tooth. Remember that no two situations are really the same when it comes to cracked teeth and even the options for fixing these teeth. It is always best to get professional dental advice regarding your cracked tooth. We are always here to answer any questions you might have and we are here to help you get in to see one of our knowledgeable dentists.

Foods to Eat & Avoid for White Teeth

If you are looking for a way to brighten your smile, you likely have some options right in your kitchen. Many foods can help whiten your teeth as well as improve your oral health, and some foods can do the opposite. Although munching on some carrots will not provide the same results as professional teeth whitening, choosing the right foods can help kick start a whiter smile.

How do foods help whiten your teeth naturally?

There are many foods and drinks that are known to stain your teeth, but avoiding them completely can be difficult. Luckily, there are several foods and drinks that are known to help combat tooth discoloration and keep your teeth white and bright! Foods can help whiten your teeth naturally by removing stains and preventing buildup that can give your teeth a yellowish tint.

Foods do this by increasing natural saliva flow which will help wash away bacteria that causes plaque to help maintain the brightness of your teeth. Other foods act as a scrubbing tool that over time can help reduce stains on teeth and some contain enzymes and proteins that can help breakdown both stains and plaque buildup to enhance your smile.

Which foods whiten your teeth?

While foods alone will likely not reverse severe damage, they can help promote and maintain good oral health and a bright smile. We are going to break down the top foods that can help whiten your teeth, that does not mean you should only eat these foods and avoid everything else, moderation is key. Here are some food that can help whiten your teeth:

This list might be surprising to some, as two extremely popular searches on Google are:

  • Do carrots stain teeth?
  • Do strawberries stain teeth?

In fact, both of these are actually foods that don’t stain your teeth, they will help whiten them.


This crispy fruit is great at removing plaque due to its fibrous properties. The crunch of an apple also works as a natural scrubber to help rid your teeth of stains and discoloration caused by plaque.


Raw cauliflower requires a lot of chewing which will cleanse your teeth removing them of bacteria and food residue to prevent plaque buildup. Similarly to apples, the rigorous chewing will manually scrub the teeth which can lift stains.


It may seem like strawberries would stain your teeth because of their bright color, but they are packed with a valuable enzyme, called malic acid. They can help whiten your teeth by working as an astringent for the surface of the teeth.


Not only yogurt but dairy products, in general, are great at keeping your enamel strong and less susceptible to erosion and plaque buildup. They can do this by neutralizing the pH in your mouth to decrease acidity.

Citrus Fruits

While citrus fruits are high in acidity, in moderation they can be incredibly beneficial for your teeth. The acidity will increase saliva flow that will wash away harmful bacteria and protect your enamel.


The crunchiness of raw celery and carrots offers many advantages to your oral health. They will help scrub and cleanse your teeth of unwanted food particles, discoloration, and bacteria.


Pineapple contains an enzyme, bromelain, which can break down proteins that are known to cause stains. Although sweet foods are typically associated with being bad for your teeth, pineapple can satisfy your sweet tooth and brighten your smile.


Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and other nuts are packed with nutrients that are great for your oral health. They also are harder to chew, and their natural abrasiveness can help remove stains and plaque.

What foods should I avoid for whiter teeth?

As previously stated, all foods are fine in moderation but overindulging in some can lead to dull, discolored teeth. It is good to be conscious of what can impact the brightness of your smile so you can choose some of the foods mentioned above over others with a potential negative impact. Let’s look at some of the key foods to avoid when whitening your teeth.

Sugary foods and drinks

For starters, foods that are high in sugar like candy, sports drinks, pop, and some cereals can increase the likelihood of cavities, plaque buildup, and enamel erosion.

Coffee, tea, and red wine

Although not necessarily foods, coffee, and tea are highly acidic and can weaken the enamel making your teeth more prone to stains. Especially since these are drinks that are typically sipped on, the teeth are exposed to acidity consistently for a longer time. Since the colors of coffee, tea, and red wine are so strong, they can easily influence discoloration.


This may come as a surprise, but berries, especially berries with dark pigments can stain your pearly whites. Another downfall is the seeds that come from berries can get stuck in your gums and in between teeth and hinder your oral health. Don’t stop eating your berries but make sure you give your teeth a good cleanse and floss after.

What You Need to Know About TMJ

TMJ is one of the most common issues that millions of Americans live with. A multitude of people are living with TMJ that is undiagnosed and are just dealing with the pain coming from their jaw joints. The pain caused by TMJ can be slight, severe, short-lived or chronic which makes it difficult for both the patient and dentist. This article is going to break down everything you need to know about TMJ including what it is, how it is diagnosed, the common symptoms and effective solutions.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is found on each side of the jaw and acts as a sliding hinge to move the jaw up and down. This joint connects the jawbone to the skull in front of the ear and is very flexible allowing people to speak, yawn and chew. TMJ syndrome also referred to as just TMJ, is when there is pain in the joints and surrounding muscles that can be provoked by various medical problems, misalignment or inflammation. The pain ranges in severity depending on the person and restricts the movement in the jaw, often affecting other areas of the body.

Generally speaking, it is very difficult to determine exactly what causes TMJ as multiple factors can be involved including injury, genetics or arthritis. There is a relationship between people that experience TMJ and people that clench their jaw or grind their teeth, but there are many people who do that out of habit and do not experience TMJ. Since the location of the joints is in a central area close to the face, neck, ears, and skull, there are several different types of pain that can be experienced outside of the joint itself. This pain is also usually temporary making long term treatment options limited for most people.

What are the signs of TMJ?

Similarly to how there are various causes and types of pain associated with TMJ, there are also many different signs or symptoms related to TMJ. Obviously, pain in the jaw joints is a telltale sign, especially if it hurts when applying pressure to the area.  Many TMJ patients, however, also experience lingering aches in the ears and head as well as face and neck pain. These pains are often felt most when the jaw is active or when the joints are overstretched. It can also feel like migraine or ear infection symptoms or lead to dizziness, nausea, and muscle spasms.

Another common sign is if the jaw feels dislocated, locks up when it is either opened or closed or has a clicking sound accompanied by pain when doing normal activities like chewing. These symptoms often force patients to awkwardly open and close their mouth which can mess up their alignment. Sometimes, the face will become swollen in the area where the joint lives which is typically the only visible symptom patients report.

How does a Dentist diagnose TMJ?

Before considering treatments for TMJ, it is imperative a diagnosis is done. This diagnosis is typically done by a dentist however other professionals are able to as well. Since there are a wide variety of TMJ conditions and situations, there is currently not an accepted, standard test to diagnose TMJ. A dentist is able to identify the syndrome by the description of symptoms combined with a physical evaluation of the jaw and face.

X-rays are also a useful tool in examining the jaw, joints, and alignment of teeth to diagnose a patient with TMJ. Having a record of a patient’s medical and family history as well as past x-rays makes it much easier to identify TMJ. Biannual dental checkups are useful for more than just a teeth cleaning and this is one reason why regularly going to the dentist is recommended. If there are changes in an x-ray from previous visits or TMJ runs in a family, a dentist will be able to more accurately diagnose and treat their patients.

What are the solutions for TMJ?

As previously mentioned, most TMJ pain is temporary and will go away without treatment, however, there are ways to mitigate the pain when it happens. It is important to consult a professional before attempting any at-home solutions as your dentist will recommend what is best for your specific situation.

There are several nonsurgical remedies to treat TMJ pain, often your dentist will suggest doing multiple at the same time. Starting with medication, your dentist will likely suggest you take over the counter pain relievers. If the problem persists, they can prescribe different types of medications including higher strength pain relievers, muscle relaxants or other prescriptions that can be used for pain intervention. Check out these other at-home TMJ pain relief options:

  • Applying ice and heat to the joint area
  • Eating soft foods that do not require aggressive chewing
  • Gently massaging and stretching the jaw, neck and face muscles
  • Stress management techniques including meditation

There are also nonsurgical and nondrug remedies including mouth guards, physical therapy, and counseling. Although doctors are not exactly sure why it works, it is common for patients with TMJ pain to benefit from wearing mouth guards. Physical therapy is used to help strengthen the jaw, joints, and muscles through exercises, heat and ice. For some patients, counseling allows them to figure out and understand what triggers their TMJ pain so they are able to learn to avoid it.

Surgical treatment for TMJ is always the last resort if other methods have failed. Your dentist will be able to determine which surgery is best but we will go through the most common surgical TMJ treatments. Depending on a patient’s situation, dental surgery may be needed to realign the jaw and teeth. Another option is arthrocentesis which is a minimally invasive surgery that inserts fluid into the joint to help remove inflammation and debris. Lastly, a surgery to completely replace or repair the jaw joint can be done but comes with higher risks than other surgical options.

The best way to prevent TMJ from occurring is by keeping up with your dental checkups. Your dentist is able to figure out the most effective treatment plan when your concerns are expressed and action is taken early. If you are experiencing what you suspect is TMJ, set up an appointment with the experts at Cavanaugh Dental.

Why do I have Bad Breath?

We have all experienced bad breath at one time or another because it is very normal. A huge struggle people have is not really being able to smell their own breath. This leads to some people being overly paranoid about bad breath when they don’t have to be and others not being conscious about it at all when they should be. If you do experience bad breath but take decently good care of yourself, it can be confusing trying to figure out what has caused it. This article is going to explain what bad breath is, a variety of causes and tips for getting rid of it.

What is halitosis?

Halitosis is the technical term for an unpleasant odor coming from the mouth, or bad breath. It can be hard to describe the experience of halitosis or exactly what it smells like as it usually depends on what the cause is. By having an open discussion with your dentist about your concerns regarding your halitosis, they can help figure out the cause and suggest solutions.

What are common causes of bad breath?

While there are a wide variety of things that can cause bad breath, here are the most common:


After eating flavorful foods like garlic and onions, you may notice your breath smelling different. Usually, the unattractive smell will disappear after brushing your teeth, but if it doesn’t there’s an interesting reason why. When digested, particles from odor-causing food enter your bloodstream and travel to your lungs. When you exhale, the odor from the food particles in your lungs can impact the way your breath smells. It is hard to avoid this type of bad breath unless you plan on never eating these foods again. Unlike other causes of halitosis, this is not one to worry about as it will go away naturally.

Oral Health

Bad breath is often a result of poor oral health. By neglecting your oral health, food particles and bacteria will get trapped in hard to reach places like between teeth, on the tongue or tonsils. When lingering food and harmful bacteria are not removed, they will not only cause bad breath but can lead to other oral issues like cavities and gum disease. Disease, decay and infections in the mouth are also culprits in foul-smelling breath.


When consuming alcohol, as well as drinks that contain caffeine, your body’s natural saliva production decreases. Saliva is essential in keeping a mouth healthy because it will naturally remove harmful bacteria and drink particles. When there is a shortage of saliva and the mouth is not being naturally cleaned, odor-causing bacteria will thrive.

Dry Mouth

This condition causes bad breath very similarly to how alcohol does – when saliva production is low, odor-causing bacteria will get to work. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is when saliva product decreases extremely or stops. This naturally occurs when you sleep, which is why “morning breath” exists but if it continues to happen while you are awake, there is another cause. Oftentimes dry mouth is caused by an issue with the salivary glands, a side effect of prescription medications or from mouth-breathing.


Tobacco products will leave a distinct, horrible odor in your mouth. Many tobacco users are unaware their breath smells because tobacco affects a user’s sense of smell. Besides bad breath, it also can stain your teeth and increase your risk of various cancers.


By partaking in ‘fad’ diets or not eating a balanced diet, you may be putting yourself at risk for bad breath. For example, since bacteria feeds off of sugar, a diet that is high in sugar will allow odor-causing bacteria to prosper. Other weird methods of eating will cause a change in your body’s metabolism or how it digests food which can cause bad breath.


Bad breath can be caused by a wide variety of illnesses including sinus, respiratory, and tonsil issues as well as kidney and liver problems. Sometimes this is the result of odor-causing bacteria, or it is a sign indicating an illness or disease.

How do you prevent and fix bad breath?

One of the best ways to prevent bad breath is by visiting your dentist regularly. Going to the dentist twice a year will allow your dentist to examine your oral health. They will be able to make recommendations and remove any buildup on your teeth to prevent decay, disease and infection that can all cause bad breath. Besides going to the dentist, good ways to prevent bad breath include taking proper care of your oral health at home, eating a balanced diet, going to the doctor when you are sick, limiting your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. Not only will these tips help keep your breath odor-free, but they also help promote a happy, healthy lifestyle.

So how do you know if your bad breath is a cause for concern? If you are consistently noticing your smelly breath, it is time to get it checked out because it is always better to be safe than sorry. As previously mentioned, bad breath can indicate illness, disease or even that your body is unhappy with how you are treating it. Your dentist is the best person to talk to about this as they will be able to tell if the smell is caused by something they can fix or refer you to an alternative solution.

Signs of a Cavity in Kids

Unfortunately, it is very normal for children to get cavities. This makes sense because children have bacteria in their mouths, tend to have diets that are higher in starches and sugars, produce less saliva than adults and aren’t as good at brushing. It may seem pointless to be concerned about your children getting cavities in teeth that will fall out, but primary teeth set the foundation for a child’s future oral health. It is important for the primary teeth to remain healthy because they hold space and guide the adult teeth in growing in correctly.

As a parent, it is important to keep up with your child’s oral health to identify signs of cavities as well as prevent them in their primary teeth. It is difficult to figure out if a child has a cavity without bringing them to the dentist, but it is critical to act immediately if you do identify cavity symptoms at home. Keep reading to learn all about signs of a cavity in kids as well as preventative measures and treatment options.

What causes cavities in children?

Cavities happen when a tooth starts to decay and forms tiny holes in the enamel. Tooth decay is a result of sugar and carbohydrate remnants on a tooth turning into plaque. The bacteria in the mouth feed off of the plaque-forming acids that eat away at the enamel. As the acids deteriorate the enamel, the tiny holes leftover are cavities. Cavities are permanent damage to a tooth that can be treated with a filling to prevent further damage. If cavities are left untreated, the acids will continue traveling deeper into the tooth that can form dangerous infections that need treatment with a root canal or extraction.

How do you prevent cavities in children?

Although cavities in children are common, they are also preventable. There are many factors that go into the making of a cavity, so as parents it is important to be diligent with your child’s oral health since they are unable to. Before babies even get their first tooth it is advised that their gums are wiped down after drinking milk to remove starches and sugars. A child’s teeth should be brushed twice a day once they get their first tooth and flossed once a day by the age of two.

Another key to cavity prevention is taking your child to the dentist regularly once they get their first tooth or by their first birthday. It seems unnecessary to many parents, but taking your child in for dental checkups will allow the dentist to catch and address any oral health issues early on. When the time comes, ask your dentist if fluoride treatments are right for your child. Fluoride is a great way to replace minerals in decaying teeth and limit the production of dangerous acids.

It is critical for parents to be aware of their child’s sugar intake because the bacteria in the mouth convert sugar into acid. The issue with tooth decay and sugars is how often your child is consuming sugar, instead of how much. Many children drink a bottle of milk or juice throughout the night meaning the sugars will be sitting on their teeth the entire night. The teeth’s extended exposure to sugars during the night is one of the main causes of decay in children; try switching to water at night. Likewise, it is critical that your child is not consistently consuming sugary snacks throughout the entire day and has a balanced diet.

The best way to prevent cavities is by taking care of your child’s teeth while they are little and getting them into the dentist twice a year. This will turn into a habit and help your child make their oral health a priority throughout their entire life.

What are symptoms of cavities in children?

As a parent, it can be hard to tell if your child is having oral health issues because children are not great at articulating their needs. Going to the dentist twice a year is a great way to make sure your child is cavity-free but sometimes it is necessary to take your child to the dentist in between checkups. Since adults are in charge of a child’s oral health, they should regularly inspect the inside of their child’s mouth. When examining your child’s mouth, you should be looking for these cavity indicators:

Discolored spots

White spots on a child’s tooth indicate tooth decay that could turn into a cavity. Light brown spots indicate an active cavity in the tooth and these spots will get darker as the cavity gets worse.


If your child complains of pain when drinking something hot or cold, they should get checked out by their dentist. This pain is usually described as a quick, sharp pain, or pressure in a certain tooth.


This pain could be in the area around the tooth, including the gums, or even a throbbing pain somewhere in the mouth. Many children might not know how to effectively express how their teeth hurt, but regardless, tooth pain means a dentist appointment needs to be scheduled.

What are cavity treatments for kids?

Dentists often treat cavities in children the same way they would treat cavities in adults. Although primary teeth are not permanent, it is important to keep them healthy until the adult teeth grow in. If a child has a cavity, the dentist will use a drill to remove the tooth decay then preserve the tooth with a filling or crown.

The most popular options for filling and crown materials are metal or white composite. Metal crowns are the quickest solution and most cost-effective, especially when the primary teeth fall out or are removed. White composite fillings are more expensive, take longer to place, but are nearly invisible because they are tooth-colored. Regardless of which material you choose, getting your child’s cavities filled will help prevent pain, further damage and a way to ensure their adult teeth grow in correctly.

Concerned about your child having a cavity? Contact Cavanaugh Dental today to set up an appointment for them.

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